Office Christmas parties can be awkward for leaders at the best of times. How do you be inclusive of all religions and traditions? How do you create a situation for people to have fun without getting carried away? How do you create time when everyone is so busy? Now with social distancing, how do you celebrate with people at multiple locations and stay safe?
The first question I’d ask is: “What is the purpose of your festive celebration?” Might seem simple and there are many answers. This is especially important if you are going to delegate the task of organizing the activity to someone else.
Once you’ve answered that I’d suggest going deeper: “What do you want people to feel during and afterwards?” You might think emotions have no place at work, and they are always present and what you do influences those feelings – ‘good or bad’. More on that in my previous article: Emotions at Work. How you want people to feel will very much dictate what type of celebration you undertake. Some examples are: to feel happy, joyous, valued, included, together, loyal or collaborative.
Here are ideas for how companies can engender the spirit of Christmas, Hanukah or the broad-reaching festive party remotely depending on size of company and budgets. The various ideas lead to different feelings. I’ve included small business Christmas party ideas too.
Festive Party Ideas
• Festive jumper day – everyone wears a festive jumper. Can do an on-line poll for who has the ugliest jumper, the most homemade jumper or the biggest jumper.
• ‘Costume party’ so people of all faiths can dress in festive attire reflective of their traditions.
• Online party by sending a festive pack to each employee with a beverage, crisps, chocolate, a Christmas cracker, etc.
• A gift and handwritten card to each person. Delegate the budget to each team leader so they send personalized gifts and messages appropriate for each individual.
• Advent calendar – each day of advent, a leader or a rota from the office posts a ‘gift’ in a group chat or on the company intranet. The gift can be some sage advice, a helpful tip, a joke or an hour off that day.
• Christmas coronavirus survival stocking – comfy socks, hand wipes, a mask with a company logo, a food stuff, a magazine, ear buds, a nicely scented soap, hand cream, funny poster for behind their ‘desk.’ All assembled and sent to each employee.
• Half day off to do a good deed in your community (safely) – check on an elderly neighbour, give a takeaway meal to a homeless, volunteer at a food bank or in a school (as allowed). Create a WhatsApp group (or other provider) to share pictures of what each person did.
Festive Party Games
• Online cooking, cookie-making or cocktail-making class with ingredients sent to employees beforehand. For a cheaper version, one person sends out the recipe (could be their family favourite), each person buys their own ingredients, and everyone cooks the item together virtually at the same time.
• Online game like an escape room or scavenger hunt (many companies can host these for you).
• Christmas Quiz team competition or scavenger hunt with people together in small groups to solve the quiz.
• Secret Santa – one person gives each employee a different name of another employee that they buy a gift for and mail it. If money and mailing are an issue, then the gift can be a virtual gift – something you’d like that specific person to have and either you have them connect one-to-one or you all share them on a video call.
• Random Act of Kindness each day – someone in the company sends out a different act of kindness each day, the individual that does the act of kindness first (by sending in a photo to a group chat) gets a prize.
Festive Ideas for Feeling Valued
• Handwritten personalized note to each employee acknowledging them. This can be from their manager, from a senior person in the organization or someone special to them. For example, name the qualities, characteristics and achievements that they bring to the team and to work.
• Hot chocolate and fuzzies – each team member gives a compliment or appreciation to every other member of the team. It becomes a virtuous circle, it’s positive gossip to someone’s face instead of negative gossip behind their back.
• Gift certificates for a local restaurant so the employee can celebrate with their family.
The intention of most festive parties at the end of the calendar year is to have a break from the work and come together as a community to have fun. The ideas above are just some ideas and what’s best for your organization and team might be different than those listed above. Keep your ears open for ideas or suggestions from our people as well. These ideas might be helpful for your family celebration as well if that’s remote this year.
What aspects of your leadership that celebrates and motivates your team throughout the year would be worthwhile to explore?
Book a COMPLIMENTARY coaching session with me here to get support during an unusual time. Many successful (and famous) leaders have professionals to help them perform to the best of their ability – be like them.
Photos by Brett Sayles and Tim Mossholder from Pexels